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Crackers are using viruses to get their malicious code into corporate Intranets, according to Marc Blanchard, technical director at Trend Micro. This means antivirus companies will have to start working on ways to combat this code, as well as the viruses they are used to tackling.

This is part of a general trend of convergence between the virus writers and crackers that would have seemed impossible a few years ago.

"Over the last year, we have seen self replicating worms and viruses, stealth viruses and macro viruses," he said. "We have seen all these things start to merge, for example we have seen Trojans with virus technology, and active mail worms with office macros. This is a trend that will continue in the next six months."

Examples of this convergence include the KAK virus, which has been named by Sophos as the most prevalent virus of 2000, and is second on TrendMicro's virus list. Instead of arriving as an attachment, KAK is in the signature on a mail according to Blanchard.

He started working in anti-virus research in 1986 and said that the kind of convergence we are seeing now would have been laughed at back then. "Virus writers and hackers were very different groups," he said. "In fact they hated each other. But now we are seeing much more of a cross over."

Virus writers will also target the new computing platforms, Blanchard said, such as WAP and the Palm OS. However, on previous occasions Graham Cluley, technical director at Sophos, has expressed scepticism about the risk of Palm OS style viruses taking off. He said at a recent conference in London that the difficulty in transmitting the viruses would mean that they would pose only a small threat to users. ®

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